Ladies, If You SMILE At A Man – Don’t Get MAD When He Approaches You

I use to think this was a woman's way of letting a man know she's interested - apparently I am sadly mistaken

Growing up in a very traditional West Indian home, I was raised to believe that it was a man’s DUTY to approach a woman for a date. The shared responsibilities in this interaction between a man and a woman were two-fold as per traditional social-rules: It’s the man’s job to accurately determine whether that woman wanted to be bothered by him, and it was her job to clearly define her level of interest through her overt body language [and sometimes verbally too]. This was the unwritten, yet socially accepted form of dating as I was growing up [although I wish women had a lot more OVARIES to walk up and approach men, but I will get to that later], but it appears even THAT simple interaction is no longer a given. Enter, my homegirl Fiana.

Fiana of Approach2link is the brains behind an event called The Conversation Party (happening this Sunday) in which grown men and women discuss different relationship issues – and the topic for this event is “Just Because I Smiled At You Doesn’t Mean I Want To Get With You” [Which I couldn’t disagree with anymore] but here is her rationale: Women should be free to smile all day long and at whomever they feel, but that should not incite men to try and approach her just because they shared a smile.

Well here’s my question to that: What in the hell are we SUPPOSE to use as approachable-indicators if SMILING, the most basic form of human warmth and social invitation to conversation, is OFF the table?

And here’s my own answer to my own question: NOTHING. Which means the dating-dichotomy will have to inherently change and women will have to start doing the one thing y’all are SCARED-SH*TLESS to do: Approaching men yourselves.

See, if women want to create further boundaries to make it even MORE difficult for a man to know when to approach, then the easy solution to that is putting EQUAL onus on WOMEN to approach men – but you KNOW you don’t want that. Y’all want all the positive without the negative, all the benefits without the harm, and all the multiple orgasms without dude’s sweat in your eye. To illustrate my point, let me tell y’all about a funny story that happened to one of my homegirls this week [let’s call her Andrea]:

Andrea saw some handsome dude Sunday night downtown, but she was too scared to approach him and he bounced out of her life. She texted me right after and I called her SOFT for not having the heart to holla at the dude. Two days later I received a call from her late night, all excited talking ’bout “I found him! I’m following him into this bar and I’m gonna muster up the strength to talk to him!” After giving her a quick pep talk, she finally built the courage to approach him – and she actually ended up getting his name and number. She text messaged him the next day – and never heard back from him, essentially making her feel like a DUMBASS. Now Andrea will NEVER approach another man EVER in her life, and she’s gonna do EXACTLY what MOST women already do: Just give men slight non-verbal indicators that they are OPEN to be approached – and as far as us men are concerned, SMILING is the number ONE sign you’re interested.

Now I'm confused - does she WANT me to holla - or is she just remembering a joke from Kevin Hart's special?

So ladies, here’s the deal: If you don’t want to be approached, then the onus is on YOU to not SMILE at the frowsy dude at the party or bus stop who you DON’T want to come and holla at you. Until the magical day comes when women have enough FORTITUDE to chop men, you will have to deal with learning how to accurately control your body language.

Don't wanna be approached? Don't look like it

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    07/13/2012 at 4:53 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do You Believe Men Need To Step Their Games Up In Knowing When Women WANT To Be Approached Or Do You Think Women Need To Learn How To Communicate Non-Verbally A LOT Better?

  2. OcBlackGurl

    07/13/2012 at 6:22 AM

    This is sooooo true!

  3. petersburgh

    07/13/2012 at 6:29 AM

    I think it's a two pronged approach. Yes, men need to step up because the few that step to women saying things like "I want to dig out your belly" makes it difficult for a real man to come to minutes later and say hi I… as she dismisses him before he even starts. (true story). On the other hand I do think that women must be careful who they smile with. Some women have beautiful smiles and even if you don't want to date them, that smile can be so infectious you just want to say hello. The truth is there are two major things a woman can non-verbally communicate to let a guy know he can holla. Mime the "come over" or smile and I guess that miming suggests that they approached first so that's off the table in most women's books. It's really tough for women though guys. If she smiles too much, many will approach and more than likely undesirables will be there, if she frowns or at least wears no smile she's stuck up. It's tough ladies I know and I don't pretend to have all the answers but one will be to grow a pair of something and go say hi

  4. Fiana

    07/13/2012 at 8:38 AM

    What’s funny about this article is that I agree with you. Smiling does indicate your interested but I don’t think that you should refuse smiling at the man you are not interested in. Which is what I was trying to imply and as a solution to women who are not smiling because they are afraid to. Also I don’t think a man should avoid approaching the lady because he is not sure if he wants to get with him. I recommended that he does approach her still and through conversation he then gauge whether or not she is interested and whether he even wants to continue pursuing her. She may have a nice smile but after talking to her you realize the smile is not enough. I noticed that you didn’t include the flip side that I spoke about which is not every guy who approaches is interested in the women. What are your thoughts on that?

  5. J. Crawford

    07/13/2012 at 8:57 AM

    This post is spot-on. Add this to the "just because I'm dressed in a Tight Skirt, 6 inch Heels, and Tee so tight my Breasts and nipples are Imprinted DOES NOT make me a Hooker/Hoe", but let a Guy wear a Cap backwards, Tims/Jordans, Jeans or Shorts, a chain/watch and what not SAYS I'm a Gangbanger or Dope Boy.

    I assumed a Smile said a Woman was "showing interest", but this is New to me

  6. MistaHarsh

    07/13/2012 at 9:46 AM

    …..I agree that if women don't want to be approached off of a simple smile they must start to approach guy who they are interested in. But there's another side of me that hates women who purposefully refuse to acknowledge men if they pass each other in the street or hallway. Sometimes women don't even make eye contact in fear that the man will pounce on them for giving them a "sign". Women we're not all thirsty barbarians. All I wanted was to say "hello" "good morning/afternoon" and keep it moving. I would have said the same damn thing if it was a man that I passed on the street, its simply a respect thing. I find this attitude very rude and presumptuous and I'm sad to say I find it happens most amongst my race of women.

  7. Vicky

    07/13/2012 at 10:30 AM

    You smile, you're interested. You are straight faced, you're a bitch. We can't win can we!

  8. Candice

    07/13/2012 at 10:49 AM

    I kind of agree with Lincoln, if I want someone to approach I'll smile at them. I don't usually go around smiling at random men. Most of the fools that say some off coloured remark that approach me, I not smiling at them and they STILL come up to me. So I don't know how to explain that. On this blog, Lincoln encourages women to approach men but I hear some guys say they don't like it. I guess I should take a chance and do it and if he's not crazy about it, don't worry about him.

  9. cynicaloptmst81

    07/13/2012 at 11:22 AM

    First, that chicks eyebrows in that last picture are FIERCE! Woo chile!

    Second, I'm with Linc. I only smile at men I don't know personally if his decision to approach me wouldn't offend me. Smiling is def my way of saying, "yes, I think you're handsome"…but it does not necessarily mean, "yes, I'm available".

  10. dimmabl

    07/13/2012 at 3:39 PM

    . . . I don't think something as simple as a smile means you are interested. I smile at people in lieu of speaking, but it is just a polite way of acknowledging others around me, like saying "Good morning," or "What's up". I hate that I live in a city where people will make eye contact and not speak, I find it rude. I think it takes more than a polite smile to give encouragement. Eye contact and the kind of smile is very important. I have learned to turn down the level of my smile with strange men if I want to keep it moving, full watt smile is too much. I think most people should know what a polite smile is. If you're a woman and all you have to attract men you're interested in is a polite smile maybe you should work on increasing your facial expression repertoire. I saw something somewhere where interest was determined by a multitude of looks, like if a woman smiles at you you smile back and look away and if when you look back she is giving you eye contact and still grinning that is a green light.

  11. Adonis

    07/14/2012 at 1:33 PM

    Thank You Lincoln… I feel the same way when women b1tch & moan about "harrassment"

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